IBEC Ventures -- Consultants for BAM/Business as Mission
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Social enterprise, Cadbury chocolate Easter eggs and followers of Jesus

Sunday, April 09, 2017

The National Retail Federation estimates that $17.3 Billion will be spent in the US on Easter this year and $2.3 Billion of that will be on candy, mostly chocolate. Overall chocolate sales increased 24% in the 5-year period 2009-2014. Yes, candy is big in America and chocolate is big. And chocolate reigns supreme at Easter time.

As a child growing up in Canada, the Cadbury Easter Eggs were a highlight every Easter. I loved the chocolate, but only later did I learn the real meaning of Easter and the history of how the Cadbury family came to dominate the Chocolate industry in Great Britain and the Commonwealth.

The egg is a symbol of new life and the Christian tradition seems to have adapted pagan customs as they utilized the egg metaphor to represent the resurrection of Jesus. Englishman John Cadbury was a follower of Jesus, and was driven by the values of the Quakers and the Temperance Society in England.

The Cadbury family had discovered the nutritious but bitter-testing cacao nib and set about the task of making a palatable chocolate drink as a solution to alcoholism as well as a source of satisfaction. As a Quaker, Cadbury was known for campaigns to end poverty and other social reforms in Victorian Britain.

Business as a social change agent

John’s sons, George and Richard, also pioneered a progressive workplace, with Saturday half-days off in England (the first to do so), encouragement of night school for employees with paid time off to leave early, kitchens and heated dressing rooms, sports facilities, and a family atmosphere which included morning prayers and Bible readings. George was known for building homes near the factories for affordable housing. For the Cadburys, business was more than profit – it was meant to change society.

With the Dutch invention of a press for separating cocoa butter from the cocoa bean and the introduction of pure chocolate by the Cadbury brothers in 1866, an edible chocolate as we know it today became a reality. Cadbury is credited with the first Easter egg in 1875 and today 500 million Cadbury Crème Eggs are manufactured each year, with 1.2 million produced every 24 hours in its various plants. The multi-billion dollar company has over 70,000 employees in over 50 countries.

Despite several mergers, demergers and acquisitions, Cadbury has retained its identity and continues to have a strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) involvement with its commitment to environmental causes, strong human rights, employee values and integrity in corporate decisions.

But what of Easter? Early Quakers like John Cadbury understood the importance of the resurrection to followers of Jesus – and all humanity. They saw the resurrection of Jesus as a fact, and the importance of that fact in informing our belief that believers will themselves be raised from the dead to an eternal life with Jesus in heaven. In fact, all people will one day come before their Maker. For us Easter is more than eggs, more than Cadbury Chocolate, but it is at the heart of our faith.

Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Is Business as Mission disruptive innovation?

Saturday, April 01, 2017

A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances. The term was defined and phenomenon analyzed by Clayton M. Christensen beginning in 1995.1

As a reminder, Business as Mission (BAM) at its core has a Quadruple Bottom Line: 1) Profit and Sustainability, 2) Job Creation, 3) Followers of Jesus, 4) Stewardship of Resources. BAM takes into consideration, the human condition of poverty and pain with the creation of a profitable business which creates jobs, which in turn creates wealth (a Biblical value stated in Deut. 8:18). It links that with the goal of making followers of Jesus and with the importance of wise use of human and natural resources.

So how might that be innovative and how might it be disruptive?

First look at some well-known disruptive innovators. Jeff Bezos did not just improve book sales when he started Amazon. He disrupted everything – speedy book deliveries, then other products to become the world’s largest online shopping retailer. His latest disruptive talk: drones and space warehouses. His mantra, “if you are going to invent, you are going to disrupt.”

Looking back a few decades, some of us can remember the advent of the transistor radio. People first thought of them as Japanese junk, with poor quality, but they were portable and teenagers could take them to the beach easily. Gradually the sound improved and the product totally disrupted and made redundant the old cabinet radios.

I remember when a visitor showed up at our school in Brazil in the early 1970s with a portable calculator. Our bookkeeper was using a manual adding machine which did the job but was big, clumsy and noisy. I took the leap of faith and asked to purchase this calculator from the visitor before he left the country. I paid $180.00 for what today can be bought in Walmart for $5.99. Portable calculators were disruptive because they did not just improve on existing technology, they disrupted it by introducing simplicity, convenience, accessibility and eventually affordability.

Perhaps one of the biggest examples of disruptive innovation is the development of the personal computer, when the big mainframes ruled the day in the 1960s and 70s. Even the chairman of IBM, Thomas Watson is famously quoted: "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." But the personal computer formed a niche market that appeared unattractive and inconsequential at first but eventually the new product completely redefined the computing industry.

Mobile phones – the same story. The idea is that the historic technology and industry concentrates on improving their product while the innovative disruptors focus on the bottom end of the market tapping into new customers with new and different needs. They create new demand and find overlooked customers. Think Blockbuster and Netflix.

Is BAM disruptive?  

Back to the question: Is Business as Mission disruptive innovation? BAM spokesperson Mats Tunehag likens Kingdom Business today to a 21st century reformation. The Protestant Reformation was disruptive in that it focused Jesus followers on simpler easier forms of faith – reading their own scriptures, the priesthood of individual believers and faith over works as the way of salvation, among other things.

So perhaps BAM is disruptive in the following ways:
  1. Business is returned to its rightful place as the only institution which creates wealth in society; it is not government, nor education, nor health care and not the church. All of these, as good and important as they are, consume wealth. Business creates it. And it is ordained by God.2
  2. Business is the modern means ordained by God to address the issue of poverty. It creates wealth through job creation and gives dignity, honor and empowerment to individuals, families and communities. Jesus gave the Great Commandment requiring believers to love God and love their neighbor. Today loving our neighbor is creating a job for him/her and this becomes the modern equivalent of feeding the five thousand, or healing the leper. BAM is what Jesus would do today.3
  3. Business and faith are easily integrated. Business leaders are together with people many hours each week so the principles of faith can be lived out in the marketplace of life. In most cultures, people learn by observing and doing and when it comes to knowing Jesus, one learns by observing a Jesus follower living and acting like Jesus in every life. Dale Losch in his book A Better Way talks about living and loving like Jesus.
  4. Whereas most of the 20th century became accustomed to outsourcing missional work to the professional clergy, Business as Mission is a reformation. It is the work of all believers in the workplace, not just the clergy, or those paid to be missional with their faith.
  5. BAM is innovative in that it is cost effective. It does not require an endless infusion of charity monies which often become toxic by creating dependency and destabilization. It addresses issues of declining mission funding, and “America first” perspective.

A replacement for the multi-trillion dollar aid industry and traditional professional mission groups?

Today Business as Mission and related means such as Tentmaking 4 are disrupting the market. They have the potential (as the little guy at the bottom of the market) to replace the multi-trillion dollar aid industry, and make the traditional professional mission groups redundant in much of the world.

Business as Mission is making the product (Quadruple Bottom Line) simple, accessible, convenient and affordable. It is not just improving on what has been done in the past; it is disrupting things in modern times by returning to an old order of “faith without works is dead”, creating wealth and promoting dignified sustainability. In one sense it is an ancient idea; but because it has been largely lost, it may be considered innovative, and certainly disruptive.

1. See more at: Disruptive Innovation, Christen Institute.
2. Deut. 8:18  “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”
4. Tentmaking is mission done in accordance with the model of the apostle Paul. He was a tentmaker by profession, and made a living through his work when he was on his mission journeys (Acts 18:3, 1 Corinthians 9). Today the ‘tentmaking’ label is used to describe everyone who seeks to serve the Lord in other cultures through his or her profession. It includes business people, professionals, and students bringing the gospel onwards to new places.  - Tentmaking - Lausanne Movement.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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IBEC's new BAM videos library

Sunday, March 26, 2017

If you have been following our weekly blogs over the past month, you have seen an overview of our new IBEC Ventures website and learned about our Clients, our Team and our Approach.

The last section we would like to draw your attention to is the BAM Videos Library featuring some of the leading Business As Mission practitioners and thought leaders as well as Kingdom business leaders. These include:

  • IBEC-produced BAMtalks vignettes: 2-3 minute talks about key aspects of the BAM movement
  • BAM and Kingdom business examples: videos about actual businesses operated on Kingdom principles for Kingdom purposes
  • Perspectives on work and business: videos about faith in the workplace and business as an answer to poverty
  • BAM overviews: in-depth discussions about Business As Mission

There are about 25 videos in all and we are confident that you will find them to be very helpful as you consider any possible role you might play in the BAM movement.

Thank you for your interest in IBEC. Please let us know if you would like to be a part of what God is doing through IBEC Ventures.

Jim Mayer, Recruiting Director, IBEC Ventures

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IBEC's approach

Sunday, March 19, 2017

An approach is defined as “the method used or steps taken in setting about a task, problem, etc.” IBEC’s approach is rooted in who we are: we are a business consulting group which helps build sustainable Kingdom businesses in areas of the world that are both economically impoverished and spiritually unreached.

Kingdom businesses are profitable and sustainable; they provide jobs and dignity for workers; they seek to make disciples of Jesus; and wisely utilize the resources of God’s creation.

How do we do this? What is our method and what steps do we take toward that end?

First, we refer to our core competency as our consulting and coaching services. They reflect modern business consulting principles and standard coaching practices, but there is a unique quality. We believe that faith principles and godly values are integrated together within a growing business. The business must reflect who we are as followers of Jesus and create the context for the making of other disciples.

Check out the Approach section of the new website. There you will see services to businesses but also training content for business owners and for church groups, colleges and conferences in North America. Perhaps you would like to sponsor a BAM weekend seminar, or perhaps you know of a Kingdom business startup that needs help. Check out the last three weeks’ blogs for a better understanding of our clients and our team. Contact us at: info@ibecventures.com.

Our process is reflected in a 5-phase grid which demonstrates everything from identifying opportunities to nurturing and evaluating success. The method includes unique steps as we screen, evaluate, clarify, assess, identify, plan, coach, mentor, implement, hold accountable, problem solve, train, support and develop. Because we are client-centric other action steps are determined by the clients’ needs.

Our Team: Business as Mission game changers and life changers

Sunday, March 12, 2017

For a consulting/coaching group like IBEC, the team of consultants and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) is at the heart of what we do. These quality men and women with life experience in industry, culture, and life, with a wide range of business focus in the USA and abroad provide an asset to the Kingdom of God and to start-ups around the world.

Many IBEC consultants bring small business experience, while others have grown start-ups into multi-million dollar corporations and others bring leadership experience from Fortune 500 companies. IBEC is blessed. The expertise is simply too varied to imagine and too exhaustive to mention, but give it a try on the new website by following the Team links on the home page and navigation menu. You can also check out the individual resumes of some of our folks.

IBEC Consultants Training and Resource Library

The introduction of our new website is also our opportunity to introduce the new IBEC Consultants Training Program and Resource Library. Generous grants from the VEIT Foundation and the Cornerstone Foundation have helped us greatly expand our training for consulting team. We now provide all IBEC consultants and SMEs with a formal self-paced training curriculum covering basic and advanced BAM consulting topics. Each topic includes videos featuring BAM movement leaders and veteran BAM business owners as well as tools like sample business plans and resource guides. We also include 1:1 coaching and discussion with members of our leadership team to ensure that each consultant gets maximum value from their training time investment.

The IBEC Consultants Resource Library is available to IBEC consultants and SMEs, providing access to tools and resources for addressing IBEC BAM client needs. This is also where our team accesses the IBEC Consultants Training Program. These “second to none” training and materials benefit not only the consultant and coach but ultimately the clients.

Seasoned IBEC Consulting Services leadership

Our clients can count on the best possible guidance, coaching and consulting expertise from this team coordinated by Gary Willett, Director of Consulting Services. Gary himself has top level executive experience and work with small Not-For-Profits and churches as well as service overseas with international mission organizations. IBEC consultants also have access to the entire IBEC Leadership Team to guide and assist in meeting client needs.

Do you or someone you know have the makings of an IBEC consultant or SME?

Do you have spare cycles and a desire to put your gifts and business experience to work for the Kingdom? If you love God, have business skills and some margin with your time, we would like to help you leverage what God has given you in order to transform lives.

Check out the summary on our on-line brochure, Get in the Game, and contact IBEC’s Director of Recruiting, Jim Mayer, at jim.mayer@ibecventures.com.

In summary, as we step into IBEC’s 2nd decade of operations, we’re honored and excited to see how God has assembled an amazing team of BAM game changers and life changers!

New doors for prospective IBEC clients

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Last week we introduced you to our “new baby” – the new IBEC Ventures website. This week I have the pleasure of showing off one of my favorite parts of the website: the Clients area!

Clients are the reason that IBEC exists. Helping prospective IBEC clients find us and quickly connect with us is the top goal of our new website. We’re addressing that with our new website in two ways: visibility on the internet and providing a great experience for prospective clients when they visit our website.

Visibility on the internet: We’re beefing up our Search Engine Optimization and visibility on key partner websites - so people searching the internet for things related to Business As Mission can easily find us. As anyone working in this area of website development knows, this is no small challenge and is a work in progress!

Client-focused website: IBEC serves six general categories of clients and a single click from any page on the website takes visitors to information specific to each of them:

  1. Overseas Startups and Established Businesses - expatriates and nationals building community-impacting Business as a Mission (BAM) businesses
  2. North American Businesses Expanding Overseas - seeking to grow their business and the Kingdom
  3. Expatriate Employees - seeking to impact their communities while working overseas
  4. Faith-based NGOs and Agencies - seeking to equip workers to build Business As Mission (BAM) businesses
  5. Churches - activating business people to use their gifts for Kingdom building
  6. Colleges and Universities - equipping students to pursue Business As Mission

Seeing themselves, IBEC and their next steps

For each of these types of clients, we provide a series of profiling questions to help prospective clients recognize themselves as a good fit for IBEC services based on their objectives and issues. For example, some of the questions in the Overseas Startups and Established Businesses section include:
  • Do you live in a country and a community that needs quality jobs, sustainable economic opportunities, and spiritual transformation?
  • Are you considering starting a new business using a BAM model focused on the triple or quadruple bottom line? 1) Sustainable profit and wealth creation in the communities where they operate; 2) Jobs that provide income and dignity for employees; 3) Spiritual capital – followers of Christ; 4) Stewardship of God’s creation.
  • Do you need help developing a Strategic Business Plan that integrates your vision to build the Kingdom while building a sustainable business?
To help prospective clients see how IBEC works with clients like them, we highlight our services and ways that IBEC engages with similar organizations and share examples of clients we’ve served. Since our goal is to make it easy to engage with us, we provide contact information for the person at IBEC they can contact to discuss their specific needs – me included!

For the past 10 years, IBEC has been serving businesses, organizations, and individuals seeking to make Business As Mission (BAM) and the quadruple bottom line a central part of their personal and organizational strategy for impacting the Kingdom of God. We are currently working on over 20 projects in areas like China, Africa, India, Thailand, and Nepal...and we would love to work with you as well. God is doing amazing things in some of the darkest places of the world through the creation of jobs. What a privilege and honor it is for us at IBEC to be a part of His team and we’d love to help you join us in this Kingdom adventure.

Take a look around the Clients area on our website. Find your door, open it, and call us if you’d like to connect!

Proud parents: introducing IBEC’s new website

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Beaming with pride and joy! That’s how we feel about introducing you to the new IBEC Ventures website.

These proud parent feelings surprised me recently when I visited the new IBEC home page and paused to reflect on what I was seeing. There, before me, was a beautiful new creation, “fearfully and wonderfully made”, albeit a website, not a divinely designed baby. Nonetheless, in it, I could see the prayerful preparation and months of hard work by the IBEC Leadership Team and our excellent graphics and website development team1. Being intimately familiar with the tremendous quality of information it provides, I could envision the lives it will impact. And this brought a smile to my face!

The new home page is centered around five key IBEC connection points:

  • Our Clients: giving prospective clients a clear window into the types of organizations IBEC serves and the specific ways that we can address their individual needs
  • Our Team: showcasing our amazing team of consultants and subject matter experts and the exceptional training and resources we equip them with through the brand new IBEC Consultants Training Program and Resource Library.
  • Our Approach: sharing who we are as an organization – our services, our processes, our vision and values, our history, the countries where we serve, and our reputation in the BAM community.
  • Our Blog: featuring this week’s latest blog and the wealth of Kingdom business expertise, ideas, and best practice sharing in our archive of over 130 IBEC blogs.
  • Our BAM Video Library: highlighting Business As Mission and Kingdom Business practitioners in 26 videos designed to inform, inspire and help you see how you can be part of the global BAM movement. 

In the weeks ahead we’ll be peeking under the blanket to show you more about each of these key areas. For now, we invite you to look for yourself and see if you don’t agree: our new baby is pretty darn cute! Click here to see what we mean: IBEC Ventures Home Page.

1 Our website design and development team - thank you!

Carolyne Hart, e-Marketing and Social Media Director, IBEC Ventures

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Focus on Nepal

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Many times we are asked questions about where we work. Sometimes we cannot be specific due to client confidentiality, but basically the countries are in the northern half of Africa, and in South and East Asia. Nepal is one of those countries. It is a unique country but in many ways it is typical of the kinds of places where IBEC consultants work.

Demographics: The population of Nepal is about 30 million with the median age 23.6. The geographic area is about the size of the state of Arkansas. It is a beautiful place with about three-fourths of its terrain as mountainous with eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains along Nepal’s border.

Politics and Economics: While Nepal is a Federal Parliamentary Republic, it has struggled to move on from a Monarchy as recently as ten years ago and strong opposition from the Maoist party. The current constitution was adopted in November 2015. There are 122 political parties. The capital is Kathmandu.

The GDP per capita is $2500 (2016 est.) making it one of the least-developed and poorest nations. About one-fourth of the country’s population lives below the poverty line. Agriculture provides a livelihood for about 70% of the population. Unemployment is estimated to be 46%. The country is landlocked and has periodic tensions with its southern neighbor, India.

Ethnicity and Religion:There are many ethnic groups with the largest having about 17% of the population, the Chhettri. 81.3% consider themselves to be Hindu, and 9% Buddhist. Guatama Buddha is thought to have been born in Lumbini, Nepal.

Considering the unemployment, poverty and uncertainties described above,1 it is not hard to understand why IBEC sees this as an important place to:
  1. Develop profitable and sustainable business.
  2. Create jobs.
  3. Bring the love of Jesus.
IBEC’s first consultant, Ken Leahy has devoted much time to Top of the World Coffee and this company is now quite profitable and sustainable, creating jobs and sharing the Good News. IBEC has coached companies in the tourism sector and an IT company; and currently is involved with a trekking company, guest house, and an entertainment business, with IBEC’s Director Bob Bush coaching these. All of these focus on the Quadruple bottom lines of profit/sustainability, job creation, making followers of Jesus and using resources wisely.2

Nepal is both unique and typical of the kinds of places served by IBEC Ventures. We count it a privilege to provide services to companies in this country.

1 Statistics from the CIA World Factbook: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/np.html.
2 Check out IBEC’s purpose, vision, values and story at http://ibecventures.com/about.html

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Kingdom entrepreneurial business - the best answer!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The following is an extract from an article citing recent comments from Nobel Peace prize winner, Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank. Certainly job creation, poverty reduction and social enterprises which focus on the Quadruple Bottom Line (which includes making followers of Jesus) are foundational to Kingdom thinking and missional businesses.

World's growing inequality is 'ticking time bomb': Nobel laureate Yunus - November 30, 2016 - Reuters.com

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The widening gap between rich and poor around the world is a "ticking time bomb" threatening to explode into social and economic unrest if left unchecked, Nobel Peace laureate Muhammad Yunus said on Thursday.

The banking and financial system has created a world of "the more money you have, the more I give you" while depriving the majority of the world's population of wealth and an adequate standard of living, Yunus told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"Wealth has become concentrated in just a few places in the world ... It's a ticking time bomb and a great danger to the world," said the founder of the microfinance movement that provides small loans to people unable to access mainstream finance.

A 2016 report by charity Oxfam showed that the wealth of the world's richest 62 people has risen by 44 percent since 2010, with almost half of the super-rich living in the United States, while the wealth of the poorest 3.5 billion fell 41 percent.

"This creates tension among people at the bottom (of the income ladder). They blame refugees and minorities - and unscrupulous politicians exploit this," said Yunus, "You don't trust other people, so you build walls," he said.

To break free from an unequal financial system that disadvantages the poor, people should use their creative energy to become entrepreneurs themselves and spread wealth among a broader base of citizens, said Yunus.

"People are not born to be job seekers - they are entrepreneurs by nature," he said, adding that businesses that are focused more on doing social good than generating maximum profit can help to rectify economic and gender inequality.

"If wealth comes to billions of people, this wealth will not come to the top one percent (of rich people), and it will not be easy to concentrate all the wealth in a few hands," he said.

Yunus, 76, revolutionized finance for the poorest when he started providing tiny loans to Bangladeshi villagers at market interest rates without requiring collateral, helping them to escape what he termed a "slavery" relationship with loan sharks.

Grameen Bank, founded by Yunus, has lent money to 8.8 million people in Bangladesh alone since it was set up 40 years ago and its model of providing small loans to people, mostly women, has spread across the world.

(Reporting by Astrid Zweynert; Editing by Katie Nguyen)

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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3 lessons from slack-key guitarists

Saturday, February 04, 2017

My wife and I just returned from a two-week vacation in Maui, our first visit to that nostalgic island. While there we attended a slack-key guitar concert, coordinated by Grammy-award winning artist, George Kahumoku, Jr. with guitarists Peter DeAquino and Kawika Kahiapo.

We enjoyed classical Hawaiian music but also heard historical details of the music and culture of the islands. As the artists told their personal stories and related them to the land, sea and winds of the islands, three key points stood out as principles for success in just about anything, including business.

1. It's in the blood.

It became clear while listening to George that he credited his God-given abilities in music to how God had wired him as with so many of his colleagues. It seemed that his mind and time constantly gravitated to the rhythms of the forefathers.

That got me thinking about business and especially entrepreneurs. It is almost impossible to be successful if it is not “in the blood”. God has wired people to be successful in business, whether as an entrepreneur, a management type or as a financial expert. As IBEC seeks to find clients who start and operate Kingdom businesses, it is important to find people who wake up and think of business all day long – because that is how they are wired. It is in the blood. It is God-given.

2. Mentoring is important.

Peter tells the story of how his family and neighbors would sing for hours in the evenings and on weekends. As a 5-year-old he was always excluded but he continued to hang around, asking questions and finding a spare guitar or ukulele, sometimes when others had gone to sleep. He started to learn and play by listening and seeking help from those more accomplished.

Mentoring is important in business. I have highlighted in other blogs the fact that no entrepreneur ever reaches success alone. It takes others who coach, provide mentoring and expertise which she or he does not have. Just as a world-class guitarist is mentored by the masters, so should everyone seeking to reach success in Kingdom business-building be coached and mentored.

3. Be a life-long learner.

Kawika is incredibly accomplished in his musical skill – both as a writer and musician. But repeatedly he referred to learning new chords, melodies, stories to write, and rhythm variations. As a musician he will be a learner until he dies.

So too in business – we can never afford to stop learning. A recent blog reflects on the importance of life-long learning:

To resolve or not to resolve - that is the question!

It was there that I quoted Wayne Gretzky, the best hockey player to ever play the game, "... you never learn enough about the game both on and off the ice, and from the guys who have been through it."

One more blog on life-long learning:

A tale of three businesses: the importance of life-long learning

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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IBEC Ventures -- Consultants for BAM/Business as Mission